District of Columbia Public Charter School
The mural installation theme of this school follows The Children’s Guild’s guiding principals on school culture through the TranZed philosophy of developing caring, committed and contributing young people. “Find Your Voice” is a direction given to the students when they first enter the school, asking them to listen to their peers, teachers, and caretakers, and speak up to advocate for themselves and their community.
Spectrum Studio was asked to consider how students can use their voice to enact growth within themselves and others. By interviewing staff members, students, and faculty, we hope to provide an interactive, inquisitive space that allows students to share their voices and see themselves reflected in their surroundings.
During the summer before The Children's Guild new charter school opened, we were asked to design a welcoming lobby installation. The entrance of the school is filled with a bright pastel palette to give a sense of airiness that compliments the natural light pouring through the front windows. Hanging handmade butterflies fly from the mouth of a six-foot megaphone sculpture above the front doors and a rainbow-colored compass with the words " Contribute, Explore, Experience, and Commit" hovers in the sky-painted ceiling. A wall to the right of the entrance spells out "Find Your Voice" and serves as a gallery wall for rotating student work. We loved watching the students point at the wall and say "That's me!" when the mural was complete. It finally felt at home when the students filled the space.
Many thanks to Signs By Tomorrow , who installed the compass we designed, and the Esty shop ButterflyOrbs for providing beautiful mobiles.
Cafeteria Murals: Building an Urban Garden
Urban gardens are a tool used by cities to help its residents gain access to a variety of healthy, locally-grown foods that are less processed and more affordable than other options close by. Washington DC is a city that prides itself on its many thriving neighborhood gardens that partner with youth and adults to help use and maintain plots of land that may otherwise house less community-driven endeavors. Spectrum wanted to recognize that practice and encourage the students at this school to partake in their own gardening; from turning an empty lot into nutritious soil beds, to harvesting and cooking delicious meals!
Student Support Center Hallways
The Children's Guild has two designated spaces in their DC School reserved for conflict resolution that ensures there's a quiet place for students to go to talk with counselors, social workers, and their peers. Spectrum was asked to create a cheerful environment for students to walk through as they enter the upstairs support center, one that would also reflect the values of the school. We created a cozy park scene reminiscent of the cherry tree pathways by the Washington DC monuments not too far away. Leaves, bushes, and branches hide words counselors often use when helping a student through an issue.
Music Hall: What's Your Sound?
Going along with the theme of "Find Your Voice", Spectrum created a flowing mural that combines old-school musicians like Duke Ellington and Marvin Gaye, and more contemporary musicians like Queen Latifah; all whom represent a unique, trail-blazing voice that questioned the status-quo in each style of music. Students learn about these figures in class and are inspired to write their own songs!
We are creating a hub of activity to showcase all the after school programming students at the school are diving into this year and next- more images to come!
Kindergarten Hall: Preparing To Learn
Before children are given the tools to "find their voice", they need support in the early stages of school to prepare them for learning. Outside the Kindergarten classrooms, animals dressed in The Children's Guild's uniform act out various ways children are encouraged to behave to foster growth. From visuals inspired by posters hung in the Kindergarten classroom that help students focus, bears can be seen reading to each other in a circle, birds great each other with “hello” and are ready to listen for directions, ducks swim across a pond in a straight line, and all kinds of animals are seen helping each other and playing together.
Media Center: Pop–Up Story Explorations
The school opened their library in March 2017 after a year of planning a system to get books in the homes of students to begin creating their own libraries. To start, we created a series of murals from favorite books that teachers selected. Seeing the stories come alive in human-scale, collaged together in one giant, floating pop-up book universe has been a fun way to introduce kids to amazing children's book authors. Check out the labels in the mural to see who we featured!
Dedication to Scholarship: Commemorating Scholars of Color
Upstairs in the middle school, students can make connections in their classrooms and to history with a mural that recognizes scholars from the past two centuries who have made a difference to our current existence in literature, law, science, politics and language.